Tag Archives: Friday

Passed By a Minivan

One of my conceits – I have many – is that I still see myself mentally as about 25. My knees usually jolt me back to reality.

Of course, it’s hard for me to say my knees really are a feeling old thing. Not when they’ve been aching off and on since I can remember. At least since I was 5 years old.

An Arthur aside: I can remember taking Aspirin – what else was there back then – for my knee pain when I was 6 years old. Now, of course, we know that children that young shouldn’t take aspirin – it can trigger Reye’s Syndrome, a potentially fatal disease. But I took more than my share to cool down my burning knees back in the day. I was lucky enough to come through unscathed – or did I?

The point is: My mental picture of Arthur doesn’t have any of the gray hair, the added girth and the lines around my eyes that for some reason show up in the mirror.

I got closer to that picture last night, though. Here’s what happened:

Karen and I decided we wanted to go see “The Way, Way Back.” We decided this last weekend when it opened: It was only playing at the Ballantyne theater. We’d never been but wanted to go. We knew you could get your movie with a side of beer or wine there, and we thought there was food, too. (Turns out we were sort of wrong about the food – you could get a hot dog, a Nathan’s hot dog, but not much else besides standard movie fare.)

Anyway, I checked Friday and it was playing at the theater that – if we wanted to, and we don’t – we could walk to from our house. It’s a brand spanking new theater, with great seats and sound and everything that a modern theater has. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – and much right with it. But it doesn’t have any romance. Not to mention beer and wine sides.

So we took off for the Ballantyne venue instead last night, which in this case necessitates a trip on the freeway around Charlotte – I-485. That’s when the SUV time machine I was driving suddenly took me far into a dystopian future. What happened was this: I got passed by a minivan.

I got passed by a minivan hauling a trailer.

I didn’t get passed because I was stuck in the slow lane behind a grandpa. I was the grandpa, driving in the slow lane (doing 70 but …). And I got passed by a minivan. A minivan hauling a trailer.

It shook me.

What’s even worse was my reaction. I didn’t speed up and leave that minivan eating my dust. I let it go, maintaining my speed, sniffing at the young whippersnapper in his daredevil minivan.

The movie was terrific, by the way.

Even though no one got blowed up. Or superpowers. Or joined an elite team of street racers. Uh-oh. I’m doing it again …




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The ‘Other’ Thing The CEO Told Us

“What are these things like?”

That’s what Tyler asked me before the all-employees meeting at my company Friday. After he asked whether he could join me on the balcony overlooking the main lobby at our building. I told him sure, of course.

Tyler’s an analyst, one of many at our company. Even if I understood what he does (and I sort of do), I couldn’t really tell you. A great deal of what we do is proprietary, guided by the Tylers, Caties, Jessicas and Justins of the world, not to mention the Krissys, Chrissys and Christies.

Anyway, I had an answer for Tyler’s other question, too.

“They’re pretty good. I always leave them pretty inspired. And I’m not an ‘inspired’ kinda guy – I’m more of a cynic.”

He nodded, but I’m not sure he believed the old guy.

I should explain that we have all-employee meetings every month, usually after what’s called Business Reviews at our outfit. During Business Reviews, the CEO and senior management discuss relevant topics in each part of the organization – we call those parts clusters. Who can go to these discussions? Anyone. That’s right, even the most junior people in the company can – and are encouraged to – sit in on pretty high-level discussions of what’s going on.

At the all-employee meeting, the CEO, Ric, sort of gives an overview of where the company is (including let us know about pending deals). It’s pretty fascinating.┬áRic also usually has some words for us about life.

At Friday’s meeting, Ric talked about going to see his daughter – she’s in elementary school – sing at a school function. Let’s be honest, he bragged about how good she was. The point of this is that he referenced the plane crash he was in four years ago – the one where Captain Sully landed the plane in the Hudson River. You can see his Ted Talk about it here: I highly recommend it, and yes, I know I’ve linked and recommended it before. I can’t help it, I find it tres inspiring.

He summed up his point with these words: “Your real job is at home.”

But earlier, in the just kind of fooling around part of the meeting where he answers questions submitted by employees, he said something else, too, that I found pretty revealing about our company. The question was: Do you worry about lost productivity during March Sadness (which I hope it is for dook) when games are on all afternoon Thursday and Friday? Understand that one of the things I can say about the business is that we’re all about productivity, measured in about a thousand different ways. His short answer to this question was this: “No.” Then he spoke some more about it. What follows isn’t a direct quote, I didn’t have anything to take notes with, but it went pretty much like this: “We work hard here. We all know that. And we’re crazy productive. So if you want to watch basketball, watch basketball. That’s why there are about 1,000 TV monitors in this building. If you get your work done, watch basketball. That’s what matters: Personal responsibility.”

And that, folks, is why I love what I do. We work damned hard, but we’re treated like the adults we are. Well, we’re adults most of the time anyway.

He closed the meeting with the story about his daughter and the admonition to make sure we were doing the job at home, too. I walked back to my desk, eyes glowing, snuffling back some tears.

Later, Friday, I ran into Tyler again. I couldn’t resist the question: “So what did you think?”

“You were right, man,” he said. “You were exactly right.”

And now it’s almost time to watch some basketball. At home. I’m just doing my job.


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